Monday, January 3, 2011

Trip to Damascus

I'm back!! After 3 weeks in Damascus, we made it back to Saudi in time to ring in the new year here with our friends. But first, here are some highlights from our trip...

The Highs 
My sister-in-law's engagement party was gorgeous! She did an amazing job of picking out all the decorations and centerpieces, and it ended up being one huge dance party that went on till 2am. For me, it was so fun but exhausting. I spent maybe a total of one hour in my heels (which is blasphemy to pre-preggers Noura). Luckily, I was prepared enough to face the horrible truth that my new body simply can't be held up on 4 inch stilettos anymore and I brought some flats that I spent the rest of the night dancing more comfortably in. Everyone was also worried about me dancing so much so I kept trying to take frequent breaks, which involved sitting down and eating whatever was on the table. In the end, it was a great party and I'm so happy for my sister-in-law and her fiance, Tarek. 
With my handsome hubby at the engagement party!

Al and I with my sister-in-law, Afraa and her new fiance, Tarek.
We also got the chance to meet Tarek's family. His sister, Dana and her husband and kids came in from Chicago, and his brother Ahmad and his wife and son came in from Egypt so it was a nice blend of cultures and experiences. We got to spend some time with them (over dinners, of course) which added to our already hectic schedule but was well worth it. I love meeting awesome new people and we had a lot of fun with them.

Oh! Did I mention that it snowed there?? Yeah, it was INSANE! It snowed for about 12 hours nonstop, and apparently that hasn't happened there in decades. So of course, the entire city went into total chaos. Streets closed, trees and power lines went down, and kids ran amok. This picture was taken of one of the main highways in the city. 
Definition of clusterf*ck
Needless to say, after everyone enjoyed the snow for a few hours, the general consensus after the storm was 'snow is definitely not our thing'.

Now some highlights of the rest of the highs:
  • My uncle came in from Cyprus so it was good to see him
  • I also got to see my friends from EY, it was great seeing them and getting all the updates of what's going on from work (and nice to know that I've been missed, hehe). From all the changes I've heard about, I'm kind of glad I'm not working there anymore, even though I really miss our shenanigans back at the office...
  • On Christmas Eve, we went to my in-laws' villa out in the country and had a great turkey cooked by Afraa. I was so happy since I didn't get to eat turkey on Thanksgiving so that was a nice way to spend the day. Afterwards we had to make it to 2 other family gatherings, one with Al's family and one with mine. That was a fun but exhausting day.
  • My mother-in-law is an OB/GYN so we went to her clinic with Al's dad and sisters so we could all see baby Omar on the ultrasound. He has gotten so BIG! My mother-in-law was trying to take some measurements of him but he wouldn't sit still! He kept rolling over and kicking and at one point we saw him sucking his thumb. It was soooo cute, and I was glad that we all got to share that together.
The Lows 
Unfortunately, there were a couple of lows on the trip. I really didn't mind all the running around and trying to make enough time to see everyone that we needed to see...I'm pretty used to that. But with being pregnant, it took its toll on me after the first week.  I mentioned in my previous post before I left that everything we do in Syria involves eating. Well, despite my looking forward to that particular detail, it ended up being my Kryptonite. I know there is such thing as self control, but when the food you love and have been deprived of for many months is so deliciously spread in front of you, dammit you gotta eat it! In the past, my body was totally ok with that. But I guess even though I'm supposed to eat a lot and gain weight while preggers, turns out there are some limits, and I definitely crossed those limits with the quickness. End result: angry angry stomach.  I felt like those first three months of pregnancy when I didn't get sick at all, I made up for in one night. It was awful, and I was so worried about the baby since I couldn't keep anything down. But turns out I was suffering more because he was soaking up all the nutrients he needed. He was fine, chillin, fat and happy. I felt like dying. It took me an entire week to start eating normally again, and I had to turn down so many plates of awesome food which made it worse. It kind of took away from the whole 'back to the homeland' experience, but I learned my lesson: My God, have some self-control, woman! But wait, there's more...once my stomach started feeling better, the rest of my body attacked. I got the flu, and when you're pregnant, you just have to suck it up and take it because OD-ing on Nyquil is NOT an option. When my fever picked up my mother-in-law had to give me some (baby safe) medicine to keep it down cause running a high fever also isn't so bueno for el nino. Being sick is sucky enough as it is. Being sick while pregnant is 10 times worse. Hopefully all that crud is out of my system now and it doesn't happen again!

Another low was the cold. I guess spending 4 months in the Saudi heat makes you cold-averse. I've never had a big problem with the cold, and I don't know if it was because my body is all weird now or because I just got used to the heat, but I was absolutely miserable whenever we had to go outside. I just couldn't handle it, and considering I'm going to be back in Nashville in February, its taking away some of my excitement about that. Coming back to Saudi and to beautiful 75-degree weather made me sooo happy, and the fact that I'll never have to wear yucky winter clothes here makes living here that much better.

Overall, despite my stomach and flu problems, I had a great time in Damascus.  It was a nice way to change some scenery and see all the family. But by the end of the trip, Al and I were ready to get back to our house and the warmth in Saudi. After all, it is our home sweet home now :)

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